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Contouring, Strobing & Baking: What you need to Know

If you don’t religiously follow beauty trends, you might think that contouring, strobing and baking are all weird things that people do at raves. Rest assured: these are simply techniques for shaping the face with makeup.

Many people are intimidated by these trends because makeup artists have recently taken them to the extreme. Cosmo released an article on “clown contouring:” a new fad that requires an extremely artistic hand. 

You’re not seeing things; women are actually painting on clown faces and emojis in order to achieve a highly sculpted and defined look.

You don’t have to be a professional makeup artist (or circus performer) to get these beautiful results. All you need are some powders or creams, that are both slightly lighter and slightly darker than your complexion, and a brush or sponge to blend them out.

Contouring: Using darker products to create shadows that will slim your face

You’re probably most familiar with this technique because nearly every beauty brand has released a “contouring” product in the past few months. Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Contour Kit was one of the first to hit the market. Lorac, Too Faced and even NYX soon followed suit.

Don’t feel limited to these products and palettes. Any type of darker foundation, bronzer, or even eyeshadow will work just fine. The trick is to find a color that mimics a natural shadow. Opt for cool-toned browns instead of warm bronzers for the most realistic look.

To contour, lightly blend the product into the parts of your face that you want to “sink in.” Most people contour under their cheek bones, the sides of their nose, around the temples and just below the lower lip. Creating shadows in these places slims the face and makes the highpoints of your bone structure pop.

Strobing: Using bright products to accentuate the high points of your face

Think of strobing like contouring’s sister. If contouring is all about drawing certain parts of your face in, then strobing is all about pushing other features out. Any type of highlighting powder or cream will work for this technique. You can even use a lighter foundation or an eyeshadow that is just slightly brighter than your skin tone.

Sweep the brightening product of your choice on the tops of your cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose, in the center of your forehead and chin and across your cupid’s bow. Bringing light to these features has the same effect as contouring because the eye is drawn to them first, thus sinking the parts that aren’t highlighted inwards.

Baking: Setting your foundation with lots of powder to lock it in place and brighten the skin

Baking (or cooking) may sound new to you, but it’s actually been a popular technique in the drag world for years. Basically all you need to do is apply liquid foundation or concealer as you normally would, and then pack on a loose powder that is slightly lighter than your skin tone. MakeUp Forever’s Super Matte Loose Powder is a great option. Let this powder set on your skin for at least 10 minutes to “bake” your makeup. After that time is up, sweep away the excess with a fluffy brush. You’ll be left with a flawless, airbrushed look.

You can bake any part of your face that you’d like. Most people use this technique to set their concealer under the eyes, down the bridge of the nose and beneath the cheek contour.

The great thing about each of these trends is you can tailor them to suit your beauty preferences. If you don’t wear a lot of makeup or you prefer a natural look, you can use a very light hand and a little bit of product to create a slight shadow and a natural highlight. If you love a bold look, you can use the NARS Ita brush and darkest powder you can get your hands on to sculpt those cheeks out, honeyyyy.

As with any beauty trend, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to play around with different products and techniques to see what looks best on you. After all, the whole point of these trends is to enhance your natural features. 

Senior public relations major with a passion for writing and all things beauty.
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